RWA-It's the comradery.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My first Romance Writers of America conference was at Dallas in the early 1990's. I recall standing in line for cappucino and chatting with others. Suddenly, I became thunderstruck when I realized one of the ladies was Iris Johansen. Later on in the executive bar, my roommate and I spent nearly an hour speaking with a friendly woman who was up for her first RITA. We screamed our heads off when she won.

That's the beauty of a RWA conference, the absolute accessibility to publishing world. There's nothing like the published members' willingness to share their knowledge and lessons learned to those thirsting to write.

Since my first conference, I've missed very few. This one I'm sitting out as I had a fabulous trip to Napa Valley and San Francisco. However, I'll miss seeing all my friends and agent who are now streaming to NYC. The conferences have all had their special moments for me.

In New Orleans I celebrated my pink ribbon for my first sale, and Heather Graham sent me a bouquet of flowers. I also attended my first Harlequin party where I became starstruck when I glanced over and found Nora Roberts cutting the rug next to me.

For NYC, not only did my critique put on a workshop but also I won both first book and long contempory categories in the National Readers' Choice competition. Afterwards, I sat in the bar along with my editor and pitched the concept of a female Perry Mason that became the Legal Weapons series.

I will also hold the San Francisco conference close to my heart as I had so much fun with my friends when we toured the wine country.

Ultimately, beyond the workshops, parties and ceremonies, the RWA conference is about the friends you make and the wonder of being with like-minded individuals. It is a magical time, and I wish all who are descending upon New York a fabulous time! I'll be following those #rwa11 tweets.

:) Carol

Quixote Winery

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This quirky, boutique winery is worth a visit for its unique architecture. Designed by Viennesse artist Hundertwasser, this appointment-only winery is set against the Stags Leap Palisades.

Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser

If you've already done a wine tasting before arriving here and think your vision is a bit blurred because you're seeing only wavy lines and green stuff growing on the roof, rest be assured that in this respect, you are seeing fine.

The building was constructed with no straight lines and the roof was planted with grass and trees. Huntdertwasser capped the buildings with gold turrets to elevate man's sense of himself. One of his other design principles was color was king...all too evident from the labels the artist created.

Founded in 1969 on property adjacent to the Stags Leap Winery, Quixote employs organic farming principles to produce its Petite Syrah and Cabertnet Sauvigon. Since its 2001 vintage, the winery has used twist-top bottles. The staff was welcoming and very informative. When bad weather [hail!] delayed our group's departure, the staff en masse entertained us. I did buy a bottle of the Petite Syrah as it had my favorite note of black pepper and spice against the backdrop of dark berries.

Kuleto Estate

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Visiting Kuleto is not for someone afraid of heights or torturous switchback track of a road. However, once you reached this winery perched on a side of a mountain, your reward will be a stunning vista.

Created in 1992 by culinary entrepreneur Pat Kuleto, this mountainous vineyard overlooks Lake Hennessey and the town of Rutherford. Kuleto designed terraced blocks of vineyards planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Chardonney. He later added Syrah, Zinfandel and Muscat. The winery features a 17,000 square foot gravity flow facility.

The estate is by appointment only, and one quickly learns why. On the narrow track featuring switchbacks, our bus ran into another...with no room to pass. Rule of the mountain applies with the vehilce going up having road rights so we watched the other driver back up until the track widened enough for us to pass. A wee bit nerve-racking.

[This house sat on a hilltop across the valley. It's got to have a helicopter pad!]

Our group was greeted by a guide and our first glass of wine sipped on a wide terrace with a fantastic view of the mountainside. Then we strolled past the owner's Tuscan-styled house to the overlook of Lake Hennessey. Glorious.

Next up was lunch with a different wine paired with every dish. Exquisite. The staff was so friendly and willing to answer questions. The entire experience was perfect.

However, as a Florida driver used to flat land, I'll leave the drive up to Kuleto to someone experienced in mountain driving. :) Carol

Happy Birthday, Carina Press!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

One year ago this week Carina Press launched with 37 ebooks and man has it grown! I've been privileged to part of its launch year, and it's been an amazing experience. I've met so many great people and made wonderful friends. My editor Gina Bernal is too die for as an editor and the cover art has been amazing.

The Carina Press author community is savvy and amazing. and now I'm part of the NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS blog.  Not only were COURTING DISASTER and COURTING DEATH released in ebook format but also as audio books by so I've been part of a whole new market. 

I can't wait to see what Carina has up its sleeve for its second year. Under the steerage of Executive Editor Angela James, the amazing digital team of Malle Vallik and Jenny Bullough, the acquisitions folks, the editors and art department, I suspect the readers will be in luck for more quality reads embracing so many genres.

And I will continue to be part of the growth and development with my next book for Carina Press in which I'll introduce a secret justice alliance: HER DARK PROTECTOR. 

Be sure to visit  and the eharlequin community Carina Press forum for the fun all this week!

:) Carol

When a loved one is ill

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I have a number of friends experiencing the stress of aging and/or ill loved ones. One said today that she didn't know what was wrong with her because she lost her temper.  I told her nothing was wrong with her; she simply is experiencing overload.

Having gone through the trauma of two ill parents, I know all too well what my friends are going through. Juggling a full-time job, taking the loved one to never-ending doctor apppointments, maintaining the home front, and in some cases, trying to write, can't be done indefinitely.  Moreover, the loved one is going through an emotional roller coaster of pain, uncertainty, anger and fear.  The person may even resent the caretaker as it's easier to focus their emotions on a closest target available.

Sooner or later a ball is dropped, words are said.  One feels guilty for feeling guilty.  The albatross of illness is overwhelming and there is no quick fix or easy answer.  My best advice is not to be hard on oneself.  We're all human and need to be kind to ourselves.  With my parents, I took to sitting outside, even for five minutes, and did nothing but sit.  Or curl up with a book for fifteen minutes before going to bed.  I tried to carve out a few precious moments that were mine alone.

I did break down several times but I always managed to get back up.  Even now, years later, I wonder at times if I had handled things this way or that way, whether I could have eked out a few more days of life for my parents, but I know that's just the insiduous guilt nipping at me.  I did the very best I could under the circumstances life threw at me, and that's what I tell my friends.  We're not perfect; we're human.  All any of us can do is the best we can in the moment, tell the person we love them, and let the guilt go.

If you have a loved one who is ill, {{hugs}} Carol